Turning 30 in any sport can seriously be scary – especially in football. It’s the age when careers end and people start questioning if you’ve still “got it”. This is the point when true athletes and competitors separate themselves from others in the same situation. Professional sports can be cutthroat and even more so when you’re deemed “OLD.”
Entering my 6th year in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and 5th training camp, I have a lot to prove to those around me; and to myself. My expectation this time around was just as simple as it was at my very first training camp: MAKE THE TEAM. While it seems like simple task, I’m older than the first day I joined the CFL and these young guys keep pushing for my roster spot, so I need to make sure I do all the little things right. I need to make sure I put in extra work on and off the field - everything and anything that will give me an edge against my competition.
Making the team starts with staying healthy and safe. It’s pretty straightforward: those who make it through camp have the best chance - If you get hurt, you miss reps. If you miss reps then you can’t show what you can do, which means you start to fall behind in the learning curve because you aren’t able to physically do it. In professional sports, you must learn quick to stay ahead of your competitors. To be ahead of the rest visually, vocally, and hands-on, you must be able to learn fast and transfer it all to the field; most of the time it’s demanded of you on the same day.
Training camp is about two things: doing your job and making plays. My plan is to ensure I don’t go out of my way to make plays, but to do my job and when the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be ready and make special things happen. Coaches don’t want robots on the field that simply do as they are told but to understand what they want and then improvise accordingly. During practice and the pre-season games, I will have to perform if I want to make the team. From making a spectacular play to helping on a double team, I must do all the right things because there is always an “eye in the sky” that sees all.
Football isn’t always about making the tackle; it’s about truly understanding the game and playing as a team. Making the team also means prioritizing the team over yourself and helping your teammates. It’s important for me to perform better than the next guy, but for me to be the best I need to beat the best. If I’m withholding knowledge that could help someone else out to better themselves to only make myself look better, that is not beating the best. And as that old saying goes, if you can teach someone something then you know it 100%. So, by me helping others understand and bettering themselves, I am bettering myself.
MAKE THE TEAM is my only goal entering my 6th year in professional football and I won’t hold back. Turning 30 hasn’t slowed me down one step, if anything, it’s given me another chip on my shoulder and added fuel to the already burning fire inside me to prove those non-believers wrong! I can’t wait for camp to start and to remind the coaches, players, and fans of who I am and that I have not gone anywhere! Ottawa Redblacks here I come and I hope my competition is ready! #RNation